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Holder/adapter for Nightscape body and Neptune image

ccd astrophotography Celestron DIY planet
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#1 optinuke

optinuke

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Posted 06 August 2014 - 11:12 PM

Two nights ago the monsoons broke enough to test out the Nightscape camera with a Pentax camera lens.  I have a variety of no-longer-used Pentax screw mount lenses and wanted to use them with the Nightscape. I found an adapter on the web with female Pentax screw threads (M42 x 1mm) to go to a male t–mount (M42 x 0.75mm).

Next, I had to make a holder for the Nightscape body since the Nightscape camera does not have a tripod socket. The profile of the Nightscape camera is round, so I took the camera to a local hardware store (Lowe's). I found several plumbing parts that could work but chose a four- inch to four-inch adapter, labeled “4INDWX4SD30 Adapter”. The camera just sits in the narrower part of this adapter, actually just the lip in the transition. I drilled and tapped eight 1/4- 20 holes in the larger end that I then put nylon bolts in. After the camera is dropped into the large end of the adapter, I align and secure it by gently snugging the nylon bolts down. The camera is tapered so the bolts hold the camera against the transitional lip.

An additional hole was also made to accommodate the USB connection and power supply connection. Two more holes were drilled in the plumbing adapter for long carriage bolts to give supporting legs. These bolts are fastened to a multipurpose platform on a vintage C14 fork mount. The attachment shows the Nightscape camera in the “octopus” with a 200 mm telephoto lens.

I made several Bahtinov masks out of overhead transparency film for various sizes of telephoto and normal camera lenses. I tried the Nightscape camera with a 50 mm camera lens and checked focusing with the Bahtinov mask. I was able to focus on Altair with the Bahtinov mask though the image was not as clean as with masks that have clear slots instead of acetate.

As a test target I chose Neptune. At full resolution Neptune was captured easily in 10 seconds subframes.  The attached file has minimal processing, no flats, dimensions reduced by 50% from the original stack and cropped.  Limiting magnitude is about 12 on the original stacked image of twenty 10-second subs.

The camera was fun to use with the 50 mm camera lens. The field was wide enough and there was sufficient sensitivity so that the live view on the computer screen could be compared directly with star charts. I didn't need to use the four-inch telescope to find objects... I just sighted roughly along the multipurpose platform and looked for naked-eye star patterns on the screen.

Hope this helps those with Nightscapes (or other cameras lacking a tripod socket) to inexpensively increase their imaging options.

Jay
 

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Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: ccd, astrophotography, Celestron, DIY, planet



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